Indian SaaS Startups’ Guide To Building A Marketing Plan From Scratch

The Indian SaaS ecosystem is maturing rapidly and has positioned itself to become the second-largest SaaS nation by 2026, with its overall revenue expected to reach $100 Bn

With the number of SaaS companies almost doubling in the past five years, it’s becoming challenging to scale a product in the crowded Indian SaaS space

In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about building a solid marketing plan for your SaaS product from scratch to help you scale in this crowded marketplace

The Indian SaaS ecosystem is maturing rapidly and has positioned itself to become the second-largest SaaS nation by 2026, with its overall revenue expected to reach $100 Bn.

With the rapid pace of digital transformation and the growth of cloud computing, SaaS has become the software delivery model of choice, providing a plethora of opportunities for startups to enter and make their mark in the market.

However, with the number of SaaS companies almost doubling in the past five years, it’s becoming challenging to scale a product in the crowded Indian SaaS space. But that doesn’t mean there’s no room for new SaaS businesses or scaling your existing business is impossible, but your marketing needs to hit the bull’s eye if you want to succeed.  

Since SaaS is a subscription-based service, marketing plans should focus on long-term, returning customers and not quick, one-time sales. And marketing to these customers takes time and effort, from creating brand awareness to closing the deal and nurturing them to become recurring customers. 

In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about building a solid marketing plan for your SaaS product from scratch to help you scale in this crowded marketplace.

The SaaS Marketing Funnel

A marketing funnel provides insight into your prospects’ journey with your business by outlining all the critical stages they encounter. With a well-tracked funnel, you can effectively scale your SaaS business by constantly optimising your marketing, product, sales, and customer service strategies.

Studies show that nurturing leads results in 50% more sales while reducing costs by 33%. Therefore, it’s crucial to work with a funnel that helps you reach your leads throughout their decision-making process. 

A SaaS marketing funnel has five stages:

  • Awareness: Your aim here is to get the word out about your software and business. This is the place to make a solid first impression, attract new leads and generate buzz and awareness.
  • Consideration: This phase comes after people have become aware of your brand. At this point, your aim is to persuade prospects to seriously consider your brand as a potential solution to their problems.
  • Decision: This is when consumers are conducting their final research before buying your product. Ultimately, they will be choosing between you and your competitors, so you have to show them why you are a better choice.
  • Retention: Once the customer has made a purchase, they’ll decide if they want to continue with your solution based on their pre and post-purchase brand and product experience.
  • Advocacy: You have to encourage your loyal customers to make referrals at this stage. Most customers who love your product and service will spread the word about you, however, some may need incentives, like a loyalty program.

Overall, a SaaS marketing funnel enables you to generate quality leads and helps you convert interested folks into paying customers. However, for these funnels to work effectively, you need a killer marketing plan that will help you target the right set of audience and position your brand as a credible solution.

The SaaS marketing Funnel

5 Steps To Create A SaaS Marketing Plan

Marketing a SaaS product can be very challenging as you don’t have a tangible product to show. Additionally, most SaaS products come with many features, making them complex to explain.

Therefore, your SaaS marketing strategies need to be catchy, easy to understand, and also informative enough to convince target audiences that you can fix their problems.

Here’s a five-step plan to craft a high-performing marketing roadmap:

Study Your Target Buyer

Your SaaS product will not be suitable for every business; therefore, it’s important to identify your target audience and their needs. Around 35% SaaS startups fail due to a lack of understanding of their target’s demands.

As a result, understanding your target audience is the first and most vital stage in developing an effective marketing plan. 

To better understand your target audience, you can start by analysing your current client base. This will help you formulate your product’s buyer persona, giving you an organised, data-driven understanding about them.

Here is a sample buyer persona created by that will help you understand what a buyer persona should look like and the data you need to create one.

buyer persona

Conduct Market Research And Define Your Goals

Market research is a vital part of any successful SaaS marketing strategy, as it’s the best way to fully understand your customers, industry, and competitors. More importantly, it allows you to determine which channels and tactics are most effective for reaching them and what marketing messages will resonate with them.

Here is how you can perform market research for your SaaS marketing plan:

Set Your Market Research Objective

It is a statement that specifies the exact objectives you intend to accomplish, taking into account your resources and time constraints. In this way, marketers can set clear expectations at the beginning of the research, ensuring that they collect useful, relevant information.

Conduct Market Research

There are four forms of market research — primary, secondary, quantitative, and qualitative. Each one will provide you with unique insights into your market.

The data collected can be used as a benchmark for your marketing efforts and also understand how other brands in your niche are faring. As a result, you will be able to cut down on the trial and error method and start focusing on channels that deliver results. 

Analyse Competitors’ Approach

Look at how your competitors present themselves to customers in terms of branding and language and analyse how you can do that more uniquely and effectively.

One of the top Customer Relationship Management (CRM) SaaS companies, Zoho, reports that it spends 60% of its revenue on research since it understands that it’s vital to know the market before delivering great products.


Plan Your Budget And Resources For Execution

The next step is to estimate how much it will cost to accomplish them. You can plan the budget for your SaaS marketing strategy based on the costs associated with the channel you’ve decided to use and your forecasted Return On Investment (ROI).

Here’s what you need to take into account when finalising your SaaS marketing budget:

  • The Highest-ROI Marketing Channels: Choose this based on the market and competition research.
  • Marketing Channels That Provide Secondary Benefits: See the channels where you can use repurposed content.
  • Timeline For Results: Define the duration of the marketing plan.
  • Budget For Marketing Tools: Anticipate your tech needs to understand the cost of creating a marketing tech stack.

SaaS unicorn Freshworks launched products in a market dominated by bigger companies. However, they realised that it was a hard nut to crack since it wasn’t easy to compete with their marketing budget.

Eventually, Freshworks achieved a 50% return on investment by integrating with BigQuery, a multi-cloud service that helped focus attention on the right campaigns, regions, and keywords.


Choose Your Marketing Channels And Strategise 

There are many channels for you to begin with; however, it’s important to choose the channels that fit your business goals for optimum results.

Your buyer personas will come in handy here, helping you decide on the right channels based on your collected data. However, it’s equally important to constantly track performances from these channels and allocate resources to the ones that work best with your audience.

Here are some common SaaS marketing channels and strategies:

Organic Search (SEO)

Organic search refers to traffic that comes from people who find your solution through search engines like Google. This traffic that comes from the organic search may be your most valuable leads because they are actively looking for what you have to offer. 

A proper SEO strategy can help you rank higher on these search engines. You can begin your SEO approach by defining your content pillars and clustering topics around those pillars, which will help your content team develop rich content for your website. Your search engine results tend to improve as your content becomes more detailed and in-depth.

Kissflow, a SaaS company that provides digital workplaces, used SEO to grow organic traffic by 500% in only two years.

Kissflow's organic traffic

Paid Search (PPC)

Paid search can be used to enhance your SEO efforts by placing text-based advertising on search engines. These ads let your website appear at the top of the search when people search for solutions related to your keywords.

Here is an example of Icertis, a SaaS company that provides contract management software, running a paid search ad on google.

Icertis running a paid search ad on google

Social Media

Social media marketing is where you create content for your social media pages and connect with your target audience. It’s important to gain followers and build relationships with them over time.

Here is an example of Druva, a company that offers SaaS-based data protection and management products, explaining to their customers how to integrate their platform with AWS. 

 Druva explaining to their customers how to integrate their platform with AWS

Email Marketing

Email marketing is the most effective channel in a SaaS marketing strategy, which you can use for all top-of-funnel, middle-of-funnel or bottom-of-funnel campaigns.

Additionally, email campaigns can help educate and engage your customers, enabling you to enhance your brand image and also nurture leads.

Kissmetrics, a SaaS company that improves business metrics, had to differentiate itself from Google Analytics, one of its main competitors. Even though its competitor was a well-known brand, Kissmetrics achieved impressive results using email marketing.

Kissmetrics achieved impressive results using email marketing

Enhance Your User Experience And Build Social Proof

The best way to differentiate your brand from your competitors is to enhance user experience and build social proof. In addition, customers are willing to spend 31% more on a business that has excellent social proof.

You can accomplish this by providing your current customers with a great customer experience and delivering outstanding results. Further, you can demonstrate how you successfully delivered those results through case studies to build social proof.

Shiprocket, a logistics software company, does an exceptional job of showcasing customer success stories that go into depth and help readers understand how their company can benefit from their service.

shiprocket customer success stories

Level Up Your SaaS Marketing Game

Though the fundamentals of SaaS marketing remain the same for all SaaS companies, the formula for success varies from business to business. And the only way to discover that formula is to monitor your marketing performance continuously and make adjustments over time.

At the same time, you need to conduct thorough market research, understand your audience, and use quality content to attract and engage leads, which forms the core of your marketing plan. Using these steps mentioned in this article, you can create a SaaS marketing plan that helps you achieve your set goals while also keeping track of the progress of the goals.

Jinggo B Danuarta

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